I’m not the biggest fan of political memoirs. Mostly because I like to read to escape the craziness of real life. Especially this year. And the next three years. It’s no secret that I think Obama was a great U.S. president. He had his faults, sure, but he was president in every sense of the word.
He was also a president who actually stood by his word and exemplified the importance of words. Who better to memorialize that than one of his former speechwriters in a new, poignant, and witty biography.
David Litt got his start as a campaign cheerleader when Obama was just starting out in his 2008 bid for President. Then he got hired as a minor speechwriter, had a knack for much of the comedic speeches the president liked, and eventually got up into the higher echelons of the position. Along the way he experienced optimism, jadedness, failed expectations, jealous, career defining moments, career failing moments, and found a salmon in the toilet. You have to read it to understand it.
My favorite part of the novel isn’t the funniest part. But it’s a section that reveals President Obama at his most human. He’s being criticized by the conservative press for golfing too much (WOW IMAGINE THAT A PRESIDENT WHO GOLFS ALLLLLLLL THE TIME). When told this, Obama softly pleads, “But that’s the only time I get to go outside.” Heartbreaking.
For liberals, this is a novel you’ve been waiting for. A confirmation that behind the scenes, Obama was the flawed hero we needed. The one whose work ethic and goals made him feel godlike. Through Litt’s eyes, we experience that blind admiration, and the inevitable, almost crushing realization that your hero isn’t perfect. As is anyone who we put on a pedestal. But after, there’s the revelation that even if he wasn’t perfect, he was trying his hardest, for the best reasons, in the ways he knew how, to make America a better place. Which most of us agree: he made it a much better place.
For conservatives: this will just confirm all your assumptions about millennials. And you already think Obama was the anti-christ so not much is going to change that in this book.
A much-needed remembrance of an amazing eight years. Reflect fondly, and take back the conversation in 2018 and 2020.
3.5 out of 4 stars.